What is ISO 17025 2017 and how does it work?

ISO/IEC 17025 2017 is the latest revision of the International Standards Organisation’s (ISO) document defining the technical and management requirements for testing and calibration laboratories. When you choose a calibration services provider with ISO 17025 accreditation, you can be confident it meets basic testing competency and quality standards.

To achieve accreditation, a company must have its management and technical competence assessed by an approved accreditation body. Then it will undergo periodic audits to ensure continued compliance. This guide explains what the standard is and how the accreditation process and standard works.

Interested in reading more about what calibration labs need to do to achieve accreditation? Download our guide to how ISO 17025 2017 works in practice.

UKAS and ISO 17025 Accreditation

Being an international standard, ISO 17025 is a benchmark for calibration labs worldwide, regardless of industry. However, specialist industries use their own specific quality management standards that cover calibration. Discontinued standards such as ANSI/NCSL Z540-3 and MIL-STD-45622A are still used. This is despite much of their content being covered by ISO 17025 2017.

The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) assesses and accredits inspection, testing and calibration organisations. It is the only accreditation body in the UK recognised by the government for ISO 17025 2017 assessment.

Accreditation is not awarded to a company as a whole. It is awarded for specific calibration activities within that company. A laboratory may be accredited for calibration of electrical oscilloscopes. But not of analogue pressure gauges.

ISO 17025 as a guide for calibration labs

The standard sets out the requirements for management structure and processes. As a quality management system, it has much in common with the principles of ISO 9001. This standard goes further. It sets out detailed requirements for the technical competence of calibration laboratories.

A calibration specialist appoints auditors, both internal and external, for its assessment. The auditors review all aspects of its technical operations to ensure that they comply with the standard. These areas will include, as an example:

  • Training and experience. The core competencies of both internal staff and external contractors are audited. Employees must be able to complete calibrations and use equipment properly. This includes developing test methods and using reference standards.
  • Equipment. The lab must provide the proper equipment. This must be maintained and calibrated to provide highly accurate information. Records must be kept proving the equipment has been carefully maintained.
  • Impartiality and confidentiality. Lab results must not be influenced by conflicts of interest, relationships or undue commercial pressures. Structures must be in place to identify and manage these risks.
  • Facilities and environment. Environmental conditions appropriate for calibration activities should be identified, controlled and monitored. Influencing factors such as temperature should be recorded on calibration certificates. The facilities should allow for adequate separation between any activities which could have an influence on others.

The auditors must first be satisfied that all documentation and processes are fit for purpose. Then the accrediting body’s assessment team will inspect the laboratory. This will cover all aspects of the standard, and may identify non-compliance. Once any non-compliance has been fixed, accreditation can be issued. Surveillance audits are also routinely carried out. This ensures that the accredited activities remain compliant with the requirements.

Why should I look for ISO 17025 services from a calibration partner?

The process of first achieving and then continuing to maintain UKAS accreditation for a range of calibration services represents a significant investment. This includes staff training, capital equipment and proper facilities for a service provider.

Accreditation is not a legal requirement. The company that chooses to pursue it can demonstrate beyond question commitment to the very highest standards.

Accreditation is awarded against a specific calibration activity and not the company as an entity. This shows the lab has proven expertise in a specific area. Having ISO 9001 certification alone shows that a laboratory has a solid quality management system at its core. However, if you require technical expertise you should only consider companies with calibration services accredited to ISO 17025.

DM’s UKAS accredited calibration services

DM Systems & Test are one of those companies. Our expert technicians are trained to the highest levels on mechanical and electrical equipment used in such specialist industries as pharmaceutical, aerospace and defence. The facilities at our headquarters are state of the art and are operated and maintained for ultimate accuracy and consistency.

Our commitment to quality is backed up by our ISO-9001 accreditation. The comprehensive range of UKAS calibration services that we can provide speaks for our pursuit of technical excellence. We’ve done it the hard way so that our customers don’t need to.

For more information on our UKAS accredited calibration services, get in touch.

ISO-17025 standard calibration: The DM guide Download  

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